A 64-year-old man from Essex has been charged with assisting Russia, the Metropolitan Police have said.

The force said Howard Michael Phillips was arrested in central London on Thursday May 16 and has been charged with an offence contrary to section 3 of the National Security Act – assisting a foreign intelligence service.

The charge relates to Russia, the Met said, and he is to appear in court on Thursday.

Phillips, of Harlow, is set to appear in custody at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

A force spokesman said: “As part of the investigation, which is being led by officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, officers also searched an address in the Hertfordshire area and an address in the Essex area. Both searches are now complete.

“The arrest is not connected to any other recent charges or investigations linked to NSA offences, and there is not believed to be any threat to the wider public in connection with this matter.”

The charge was described as part of a proactive counter terrorism policing investigation into suspected offences under the National Security Act.